Qantas will mark the end of an era with the departure of one of its Boeing 717 jets, the first of its type to be registered and flown in Australia.
The departing 717 (registration VH-NXI) holds a special place in the Qantas Group’s modern history, having operated Jetstar’s first flight between Melbourne and Launceston on the day the airline started flying in May 2004.
The aircraft has also flown on regional and domestic routes for QantasLink for the past 15 years. All up, it has completed more than 29,000 flights and safely carried more than 1.6 million customers for both Qantas and Jetstar over two decades.
Named Blue Mountains after the world-heritage listed national park in New South Wales, the aircraft is due to depart Australia in mid-June ahead of being sold to another major carrier. It is the third of the airline’s 717s to leave the fleet and its range limits mean the journey to its new owner in North America will involve eight fuel stops, including Cebu, Sapporo and Anchorage.
All of QantasLink’s 20 Boeing 717s will be gradually replaced by 29 fuel efficient Airbus A220 aircraft as part of the “Project Winton” fleet renewal program.
The first A220 aircraft is due to arrive later this year and the first of 20 A321XLRs will arrive in late 2024.